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Welsh Wild West Sportive and AberCycleFest

by Henry Peacock

An estimated 10,000 spectators and participants flocked to Aberystwyth over the bank holiday weekend to watch and take part in a three day celebration of cycling.

rider

Friday's 'around the houses' races in the town centre incorporated the televised Pearl Izumi Tour Series professional race which included Olympic stars and other top UK riders. Saturday's 'Conquer the Cliff' mountain bike downhill event also attracted a large entry including a world champion and Sunday's fun ride took participants the length and breadth of Ceredigion, finishing on Aberystwyth promenade.

The eleven round Tour Series runs across May and June each year, and visits cities such as London, Colchester and Torquay with Aberystwyth being its only Welsh round. The day's racing included ten children's races and three adult support races leading up to the big finale. Local schools were heavily involved in the event with over 350 children participating, from under 8's up to 16 years of age. Races of varying length, depending on age were hotly contested around the 850 metre circuit, shortened on the morning of the race due to high winds which blew waves onto the promenade area of the course at high tide. The new course which involved cutting out Castle point, using a detour through Castle Street and King Street, was a hit. The relocated finish line in Pier Street attracted even bigger crowds than the 2012 event.

aberfest

Fans were treated to a night of entertainment by the commentary team at the finish line including some big tunes and loud claxon horns during the pulsating racing action. Double Olympic gold medallist Ed Clancy won the race for the second time, having previously won in 2011. Clancy, part of the famous quartet of Team GB track pursuiters at The eleven round Tour Series runs across May and June each year, and visits cities such as London, Colchester and Torquay with Aberystwyth being its only Welsh round. The day's racing included ten children's races and three adult support races leading up to the big finale. Local schools were heavily involved in the event with over 350 children participating, from under 8's up to 16 years of age. Races of varying length, depending on age were hotly contested around the 850 metre circuit, shortened on the morning of the race due to high winds which blew waves onto the promenade area of the course at high tide.

The new course which involved cutting out Castle point, using a detour through Castle Street and King Street, was a hit. The relocated finish line in Pier Street attracted even bigger crowds than the 2012 event. Fans were treated to a night of entertainment by the commentary team at the finish line including some big tunes and loud claxon horns during the pulsating racing action. Double Olympic gold medallist Ed Clancy won the race for the second time, having previously won in 2011. Clancy, part of the famous quartet of Team GB track pursuiters at Beijing 2008 and London 2012, formed an early breakaway with three other riders, Chris Opie (Team UK Youth), Andy Tennant (Madison-Genesis) and Alexander Blain (Team Raleigh). These four rode strongly and were never caught by the pack, contesting the sprint  finish together where Clancy got the better of Opie who had to settle for a third consecutive second place at Tour Series Aberystwyth.

Eager amateur racers also had their chance to shine with three separate races. The 'Town' team were the victors in the Town v Gown fun race with Hywel Sion taking the individual prize, outsprinting Gareth Lewis. Fancy Dress prize went to 'Welsh Lady' Anna Evans. The race also included an emergency services challenge where the Ambulance Service came out on top.
 
The final event of the festival was a chance for all non-racing cyclists to get in on the action, courtesy of the 'Welsh Wild West' Sportive. Sportive rides are fun rides over a route market course including up to three different distances to suit all abilities.

Almost 250 riders set out from Aberystwyth and headed north towards Borth before swinging back inland towards Talybont where the 'Corrach' route meandered back to Aberystwyth after 28 miles of cycling, again in glorious sunshine.

aberfest

The middle 'Mynach' route took the riders over Nant y Moch and via Devils Bridge, covering 62 miles while the Cawr was not for the faint hearted, covering 105 miles via Tregaron, Lampeter and Talsarn before a final sting in the tail from Llanfihangel up to Trisant.

Each ride included full technical support from sponsors Continental Tyres, plus feed stations where riders were able to fill up with energy drinks and gels, not to mention Bara brith and welsh cakes. Back at the finish line on Aberystwyth promenade, each finisher was handed a goody bag and again fed and watered at Aberystwyth Boat Club. First riders to return from the epic 105 mile route were Carwyn Henson and Arwel Jones whilst the majority of competitors were from outside the county.


Next year's AberCycleFest in scheduled for the weekend of May 23-25th.





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